Friday, December 13, 2013

Using Kant's Table of Categories to Understand Heidegger

In Being and Time (German 65), Heidegger lays out four different meanings of "world".  Upon last encountering this passage, it struck me that this division may benefit supposing a backdrop of the table of categories in Kant.  I want to briefly discuss this possibility.
The table of categories are the different pure forms of thinking an object.  Each category is a model for a way of judging about a thing.  There are four headings of the categories: quantity, quality, relation and modality.  Kant is interested in having a systematic completeness in his reflections on things, and supposes that if he uses all the ways of judging a thing generally as his guide, he will be more apt at providing such completeness for his thoughts.  (A good discussion of the use of the categories for organizing reflection is in the Preface to the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science.)
Now, if we suppose Heidegger employs this method, then we should be able to draw a number of implications from it regarding his method of writing Being and Time, as well as the subject matter that he deals with.  (This interpretive hypothesis in no way suggests that Heidegger is simply repeating Kant's table of categories, but using a guide like Kant in the setting out of the subject matter.)
After laying out the four different senses of world, Heidegger informs us that he will be employing the third.  If we go by the way these sense seem to be lined up with the table of categories, then we will find that the third sense of world will be relational, which is does seem to be, since it concerns and cannot be separated from, Being-there's (Dasein's) being-in the world.
To draw an implication from this from the backdrop of the categories in Kant I will mention that the categories of relation are significant (along with the modal categories) in that they do not contribute to the constitution of an object, but to the constitution of experience as structures of experience (the unity of appearances, rather than just the unity of an appearance).  I find that this works well with Heidegger's interest in the structure of Being-in-the-world.
If the object of study in Being and Time is Being-there as concerned with Being, then perhaps we can see that worldhood doesn't concern something that constitutes Being-there's concern with being (it isn't a dealing that Being-there has), but it is rather constitutive of Being as such so far as Being will be brought out on the backdrop of the interpretation of Being-there.  Even for this, however, we will need to bring in the an interpretation of these structures of Being-there in terms of temporality, but at least we can guess at what will be indicated by the kinds of analyses in Division One of Being and Time.
When I speak of 'constitutive of Being' here, I am not suggesting that I can answer what the meaning of Being is.  Heidegger's analysis will only concern the constitution of Being in the way in which Being-there's concern with Being relates to Being as such, and since Being seems to both be the concern, as well as something supposed to be possessed by Being-there in its concern for Being, we can clearly see the circularity involved in the project of Being and Time.  This circularity isn't something that Heidegger hides from, but rather, it is something that he brings to the fore and which is important for the project as a whole.
There are other implications that we could draw from using the table of categories as a foil, but I'll leave off here, since I just wanted to raise this interpretive possibility more than anything else.

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